Most couples believe that the hardest part of a relationship is the part leading up to marriage. I certainly thought so, especially because I was in a long distance relationship for about three and a half years. If you think dating is hard, try doing it while three thousand miles apart from your boyfriend. It was definitely difficult trying to get to know each other, care for one another, and maintain our relationship while living two very different lives on opposite ends of the country. Suffice it to say, we spent many hours on the phone, and lots of money on postage and traveling expenses. The more I got to know him, the harder it was to be away from him. I looked around at friends who had “normal” relationships, being able to meet their boyfriends for dinner, coffee, or a study date. It was frustrating, and I began to fear that the distance between us would cause problems, not only in while we dated, but in our future relationship. I would ask myself, “How long could this last and how will it all turn out?”
My life changed in an instant when he got down on one knee in the oldest park in the United States, in Massachusetts, and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. I was distracted, and didn’t answer right away. Not because of the gorgeous ring flashing before me, but because images of our future were blurry and uncertain, flashing smudgy, through my mind’s eye. I said yes because, despite all my fears about our future, I knew that I wanted him in my life, until the day I breathed my last. He was my best friend, and I wanted to share my life with him. I said yes to putting my independence aside, even though I had always vowed to stay single. Being in a relationship was just never something I was interested in. I always thought I would be on my own, traveling and writing. Now, I wake every morning, feeling like the luckiest girl in the world, because I get to be his wife that day, and every day. As we prepared for our wedding, I never got cold feet about spending my life with him, but I was nervous about how our long distance dating relationship would affect our marriage. As it turns out, having a long distance dating relationship has strengthened our marriage relationship. Here are three ways:
Communication: It’s true. Not being able to go out on real dates was hard, but our phone dates helped us build amazing communication skills. Now, we know how to talk things out, especially when trying to resolve conflicts. Communication is key in a marriage relationship!
A Foundation of Friendship: When I asked my husband to tell me one way our long distance relationship was good preparation for our marriage relationship, he told me that it gave us the opportunity to build a strong friendship. “Being apart established our friendship as opposed to being caught up in the physical [aspect]. A lot of the time that overlooks establishing the friendship and getting to really know someone’s habits, ticks, things that they get frustrated over, etc.” Instead of spending most of our time getting to know each other physically, we were forced to focus on exploring the other’s personality and really building a friendship, which has set a strong foundation for our marriage relationship.
Appreciating the Little Things: Because we were apart for so long, we missed important moments in each other’s lives. Holidays were especially hard. The longer we dated, the more it felt like we were slowly becoming a family, and being away from family on holidays is difficult. Now, we appreciate every moment that we are able to spend together. We love running errands together, going out for a cup of coffee, cuddling on the couch while watching movies, etc. We’ve been married for almost four years, but we learn something new about one another every day.
Our long distance relationship was not easy, and there were days when I wanted to end it just because of how difficult it was. However, I’m so glad I stuck with it. I could not imagine my life without my husband in it, and the distance between us during our dating relationship has proven to be the best preparation for marriage we could have had. It built a strong foundation for the future that we are living now, and will continue to live. Now, we take nothing for granted. Every day is an adventure, and every moment is valued.